Community members turned out with plenty of support after a Walk for All Missing and Murdered group trudged tiredly into 100 Mile House on Aug. 26.
They have been walking across Western Canada since July 18 to raise awareness of the multitudes of missing and murdered people in Canada.
With seven people and two vans, the walkers are alternating every kilometre and making side trips to communities along the way.
When local Safeway manager Sean Watson heard about the group’s imminent arrival, he quickly jumped on board with support.
Sean walked them through his store while they loaded up on free food, water and electrolyte drinks, first aid supplies and other much-needed items.
Then, he and the Lakewood Inn donated a hotel room for the night.
The next morning, he brought the walkers both breakfast and lunch sandwiches while they prepared to hit the next long stretch of highway towards their destination, the notorious Highway of Tears (Highway 16), where numerous women have gone missing or been murdered.
The issue of missing and murdered people is “near and dear to my heart,” Sean says, adding he went to school with some girls who are now missing.
“I lived in Prince Rupert and my dad was a police officer during the time when many of these people were murdered.”
Sean explains he was also compelled to help because the walkers are “amazing people” who need public encouragement.
There needs to be broad awareness and support of the campaign because the walkers are doing this, and other activities for the victim’s families, all on their own accord, he adds.
“They dragged the Winnipeg River all on their own dime. [Any assistance] ends up supporting the families that have missing or murdered loved ones, for either a support process or some kind of investigation process.”
Watson says he has connected with all the Safeway managers along the rest of their route to Prince Rupert and set up more help for them.
Chris and Mikara Pettman also jumped up to show their support.
“Mikara was definitely the one who found these people on Facebook and … alerted the community,” says Chris.
Chris brought them food for the road and gasoline gift cards from the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre, where he is a program manager.
“CFEC recognizes the importance of their march for missing and/or murdered aboriginal women [and others].”
He notes the 100 Mile Food Bank also donated $260 worth of food and water and a $250 Safeway gift card, the 100 Mile House & District Women’s Centre gave a $50 gas card, the Bicycle Tree bistro brought hot coffee, Canim Lake Band helped financially, and various other community members, including Peggy Dawn Reed, also stepped up for the walkers.